Tag Archives: Kevin Rudd

Australia must act to protect human rights in Papua: Joint letter from HRLC and Human Rights Watch (28 Nov 2011)

The Australian Government should take a leadership role in promoting and protecting human rights in the troubled Indonesian province of West Papua say two leading human rights organizations in a Joint Letter to the Foreign Minister, the Hon Kevin Rudd MP.

Ahead of the 50th anniversary this Friday of the first raising of the West Papuan ‘Morning Star’ flag, the Human Rights Law Centre and Human Rights Watch have called on Minister Rudd to publically and unequivocally condemn the excessive use of force and suppression of peaceful protest and also deploy Australian embassy staff to Papua to monitor and observe anticipated events to mark the anniversary.

“Australia must unequivocally support the human rights of all persons to freedom of expression, association and assembly,” said Tom Clarke from the Human Rights Law Centre. “It is not in Australia’s strategic interest to have a festering human rights problem on our doorstep.”

“The default policy of successive Australian Governments has seemingly been to politely look the other way while human rights abuses occurred on our doorstep. This approach desperately needs rethinking. The problem of violence and repression in West Papua needs to be acknowledged and addressed,” Mr Clarke said.

The ‘Morning Star’ flag was first raised in 1961 when West Papua was moving towards independence with assistance from its colonial Dutch Government and the Australian Government. By this time, Papua already had its own government officials. However, in 1962 a chain of events eventually led to Indonesia taking control of Papua and well documented military violence and human rights abuses have plagued the province since. Today Papuans face imprisonment for simply raising the ‘Morning Star’ flag.

The letter urges Minister Rudd to call for a full and impartial investigation into recent use of force, including fatal force, by Indonesian police and military forces on a peaceful assembly on 19 October. The attacks on the Third Papuan People’s Congress resulted in at least three protesters being killed, at least 90 being injured and approximately 300 arrested.

“The West Papuan people do not enjoy the types of basic rights that we take for granted here in Australia. The right to meet to discuss ideas and express political beliefs are severely curtailed in West Papua. The international media is heavily restricted in travelling to Papua and reporting on events there. We are concerned that without international attention being focused on West Papua, human rights abuses are likely to continue,” Mr Clarke said.

The letter also requests that Minister Rudd urge the Indonesian Government to release all persons detained in Papua for the peaceful expression of their political views, including Filep Karma who the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention advises should be immediately released.

“Minister Rudd should follow US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton’s lead and directly raise concerns with Indonesia about the violence and abuse of human rights in West Papua. If he has a ‘special relationship’ with Indonesia, now is the time to make the most of it and, as a friend, help Indonesia meet the commitments that it’s signed up to under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” Mr Clarke said.

The Human Rights Law Centre will be hosting a public seminar in Melbourne with Human Rights Watch’s Elaine Pearson looking at this and other human rights issues in Asia on Wednesday 7 December. Further details can be found online here.

For further comments from HRLC: contact Tom Clarke on tom.clarke@hrlc.org.au or 0422 545 763

For comments from HRW: contact Phil Robertson on RobertP@hrw.org or +66 85 060 8406

AAP: Exodus in Papua amid fears of crackdown


 Karlis Salna, AAP South-East Asia Correspondent

November 27, 2011 

Human rights groups have called for Australian monitors to be allowed into Papua amid reports people are fleeing parts of the Indonesian province due to fears of another violent crackdown on pro-independence rallies planned for next week.
In a joint letter to Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, Human Rights Watch and the Melbourne-based Human Rights Law Centre have called for Australian embassy staff to be deployed to the restive Indonesian province to monitor events on December 1.
Large numbers of people are expected to gather in cities and other areas in Papua on Thursday for rallies to mark an unofficial independence day and the 50th anniversary of the first raising of the Morning Star flag.

The flag has been adopted by the separatist Free Papua Movement(OPM) and is regarded as a symbol of independence in the province which has been racked by a surge in violence over the past six months.

However, the Indonesian government considers the raising of the flag an act of treason.
At least three protesters were killed and another 90 people injured last month when Indonesian police and military stormed a pro-independence rally in Abepura after the raising of the Morning Star flag.
Video of the aftermath of the rally, broadcast on Australian television, also showed police beating unarmed protesters, including children.
As many as 300 people were arrested.
A spokesman for the pro-independence group, the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB), has told AAP that large numbers of people have begun leaving Jayapura and Manokwari in Papua, fearing a backlash from security forces at rallies planned for Thursday.
As Indonesia remains off limits to foreign journalists, the report could not be confirmed.
In the letter to Mr Rudd, Human Rights Watch and the Human Rights Law Centre raise concerns about the likelihood of a repeat of last month’s violence as well as the use of excessive force by the police and military.
The letter calls on Mr Rudd to urge the Indonesian government to allow full and free access of journalists to Papua and to deploy Australian embassy staff to monitor and observe events on December 1.
The human rights organisations say there should also be a full and impartial investigation into the deaths and injuries, and allegations of excessive use of force by the authorities, arising from the demonstration in Abepura on October 19.
But the letter also criticises the Australian Ambassador to Indonesia Greg Moriarty who had described the actions of the protesters at the rally as provocative.
“In our view, a clear and firm public statement on Australia’s position on human rights in the area is critical, especially since there is a real risk that Australian Ambassador Greg Moriarty’s recent reference to the actions of Papuan People’s Congress leaders as illegal, provocative and counterproductive may otherwise be interpreted as supporting a government crackdown on the congress,” the letter said.
Mr Moriarty, however, had also pointed to the response by Indonesian security forces as being disproportionate.
The letter to Mr Rudd also questions Australia’s funding and training of Indonesia’s elite anti-terrorism squad Densus 88, members of which were among the security forces present at the rally on October 19.
“Australia plays a critical leadership role on human rights in Asia and the Pacific and should take a principled and proactive stand on human rights with a key partner like Indonesia,” the two human rights organisations said.
Indonesia has been battling a long-running but low-level insurgency since its takeover of Papua in 1969.
However, the security situation has deteriorated in recent months with the province experiencing its worst violence in years.
Figures from Indonesia’s Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence show at least 40 people have been killed as a result of the violence since the beginning of July.
© 2011 AAP

AWPA letter to Foreign Minister re crackdown by security forces in West Papua

Press Release   West Papua
The Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)
AWPA letter to Foreign Minister re crackdown by security forces in West Papua
20 October 2011
AWPA has written  to the Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd re crackdown by the security forces on delegates at the Papuan People’s Congress.
Joe Collins of AWPA said “ the Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd should urgently raise the matter with the Indonesian President asking that he control the security forces in West Papua and urging the release of all those arrested for simply holding a meeting which is their democratic right” .

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

PO Box 28, Spit Junction, Sydney, Australia 2088

Ph/fax 61.2.99601698  email: bunyip@bigpond.net.au

The Hon Kevin Rudd MP
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Parliament House
ACT 2600
20 October 2011
Dear Mr Rudd,
I am writing to you concerning the dangerously deteriorating situation in West Papua. Yesterday, the Indonesian security forces fired on delegates who were attending a peaceful Papuan People’s Congress which was between  the 17 and 19 October. West Papua’s military commander, Major-General Erfi Triassunu, confirmed the shooting although claimed they were only warning shots. However, it is difficult at this stage to know if there are casualties but one person is believed to have been killed with others injured. Reports also indicate that hundreds have been arrested including representatives from various civil society organizations including church groups.
Panic was caused amongst the delegates when hundreds of members of the security forces, accompanied by armored vehicles   surrounded the participants at the Congress. As well as live ammunition delegates reported that the security forces also used tear gas and rifle butts on the participants during the arrests.
We urge you to urgently raise the matter with the Indonesian President asking that he control the security forces in West Papua and urging the release of all those arrested for simply holding a meeting which is their democratic right.
Yours sincerely
Joe Collins
AWPA (Sydney)
cc.Various human rights organisations